What are PM10 fine particles?

Welcome to our complete file on air pollution, with today a focus on fine particles PM 10.

At R-PUR, we are convinced that a global understanding of air pollution would make it possible to change mentalities more quickly.

We therefore have at heart to explain simply what are these invisible and odorless particles that do a lot of damage to our organism.

You can also find our dedicated article on the air quality index , which will explain why this tool is essential for your health.

What are PM10? Definition and measurement.

The particulate matter or PM (Particulate Matter in English) is a physical particle: it is therefore defined by a size (unlike a gas)

PM10 are 4 times thicker than PM 2.5.

More commonly called coarse particles, PM10 are not always visible, since their size is equivalent to 10 microns: they are therefore 6 to 8 times smaller than the thickness of a hair.

On a daily basis, to determine whether the atmosphere is polluted, we rely on the AQI, which is an air quality index.

The AQI is calculated by taking into account the measurements of the six main pollutants: PM10 is the largest physical suspended particle measured in this index.

You will soon be able to find more information on the AQI in an article dedicated to air pollution.

What are coarse particles and where do they come from?

You are now able to visualize what the particles in suspension PM10 represent, the question now is to know where they come from.

As a reminder, PM (particulate matter) are classified only by their size. Their origins can therefore be varied.

These suspended particles are emitted both by human activities and by nature.

They can therefore be of natural origin, during volcanic eruptions, forest fires or soil erosion.

These fine particles then manifest themselves in the form of ash, soot, smoke, etc.

But they are also largely caused by human activities. Here are the 3 main sectors generating PM10 in France:

  • Domestic heating, especially with wood heating of houses in winter.
  • Road transport. Diesel-powered vehicles are particularly responsible for this.
  • Industries.

To what extent are we exposed to PM10 in Île de France?

Beware of pollution episodes: the WHO recommends not to exceed 20 µg/m3 of PM10 in average annual concentrations.

In 2018, 60,000 Parisians are affected by exceeding WHO recommendations according to AirParif.

If we look at this graph from studies conducted by AirParif , the average levels of PM10 in built-up areas and outside built-up areas in Île-de-France are falling each year.

Despite a satisfying downward trend, it is important to keep in mind that this graph represents only one of the six main pollutants.

It is also important to remember that there is no threshold below which PM10 would not have harmful effects on health.

What does the World Health Organization (WHO) say about these effects?

The finer a particle is, the deeper it will enter our respiratory system.

Any particle greater than or equal to a PM10 size will see its way stop at the upper airways.

This particle will therefore be retained before it can enter your lungs.

We are therefore talking here about cough, itchy eyes, irritated throat, but also acute health effects such as inflammatory reactions of the lungs, respiratory symptoms and cardiovascular manifestations.

We can then wonder what to do against these particles polluting our atmosphere and which alter the quality of our air in or outside agglomeration.

What actions should be taken in the face of PM10 and other air pollutants?

First of all, by contributing to the reduction of the emission of these. For this you can:

  • Reduce your car journeys
  • Prioritize your trips by bike
  • Use heating sparingly
  • Limit wood burning

But also by protecting yourself from this pollution by avoiding strong episodes of pollution on the one hand, but also by filtering them by wearing a suitable mask.

How to filter PM10 and PM 2.5 fine particles? What about anti-pollution masks?

When the air quality is poor, such as during episodes of pollution or pollen, more and more people affected by the problem seek to protect themselves.

They can then turn to an anti-pollution mask.
It is then necessary to take into account two essential parameters:

Efficiency: what pollutants will my mask filter, and up to what size?

Hermeticity: in other words, will the outside air enter my mask?

For example, if 40% of the air were to enter your mask, which is the most effective in the world, there would not be much point in wearing it in the middle of road traffic.

At R-PUR, we have therefore developed a solution that perfectly meets these two criteria:

We filter particles with a size of 50 nanometers, ie 50 times smaller than PM2.5, so the efficiency is there.

In terms of airtightness, depending on the morphology of your face, we will filter 99.86% to 99.98% of the outside air: we can therefore assure you that you will be warm in your mask.

In the short term, all coughing and irritating effects will disappear.
As for the long-term effects, your body will thank you.

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